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April 21, 2015

Flavours of Goa

How many of us travel to Goa only for the food? After the beaches and beer, I would say that Goa’s tourism attracts the highest number of travellers for its food.


A mix of everything spicy, earthy and flavoursome, Goan cuisine is one that appeals to everyone’s palate. There is something for everyone here. From the coconut laden solachi kadhi to the fulfilling thalipeeth to the very spicy vindaloo, Goans are great at using their local ingredients to create magic.


Largely divided into Hindu and Catholic types of cooking, every pocket of the state makes various delicacies. That is probably one of the best things about Goa—here during Christmas there is bebik oe bebinca, just like there is varan for all Hindu festivities.


Hindu Delights


Dominated by vegetables and attuned with mild spice, the Hindu Goan culinary delights are a mark difference from its Catholic counterpart. Fish and rice are important for every meal here. Prepared in a number of ways—fried, dry or gravy—all Goans love their fish. During the months of Monsoon, the seas are off-limits. This is perhaps the only time when the Konkani cuisine is entirely vegetarian, leaving a small window for meat. Meat is not characteristically a part of this cuisine. It has become prevalent only recently.


The most sought-after dishes here are the auspicious varan bhaat (rice served with spiced lentil), solachi kadhi (gravy made of kokum), humann and rice (fish curry with rice), kismur (crispy, dry fish with onion and coconut), shak (very light spiced red or green leafy vegetables with coconut), ambot tik (fiery red fish curry) and of course, payasu or kheer for dessert.


While those are all a part of the main meal, breakfasts are always special in Goa. The Konkani thalipeeth (pancakes made of rice flour and onion) or mushti polo (Konkani dosa) are my favourites.


Catholic Delicacies


Very different from the Hindu specialities, when you see a preparation from the Catholic Goan menu, you always can tell the difference. This cuisine is a mix of Portuguese and Indian cooking styles and is more spicy than the Hindu Konkani dishes. Non-vegetarian makes its presence felt in most dishes. Dominated by meat and seafood, these are heavenly preparations which have attracted travellers from world over.


Has anyone escaped the flavours of prawn balchao, or the spicy vindaloo, or the safe chicken/beef xacuti? These are, of course, readily available in most restaurants through the state, though how authentically they are prepared is questionable. The lesser known but equally enticing dishes include canja de galinha (chicken broth originally from Goa), patoli (rice, jaggery and coconut covered with turmeric leaves) and sorpotel (a spicy pork delicacy eaten with pao).


Don’t forget to snack on chamuça or Goa’s version of samosas, croquettes or beef cutlets and ros omelette or omelette soaked in chicken gravy and served with the Goan poi. The latter is available in most food carts, along busy streets.

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